CLEVELAND (AP) -- Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire still likes
Joe Mays' pitching -- but won't trust his power of persuasion for
Gardenhire took the blame for the Twins' 5-4 loss to the
Cleveland Indians on Thursday night that stalled Minnesota's drive to its first postseason berth since 1991.
"My bad,'' Gardenhire said after the Twins' magic number for clinching the AL Central remained at three. "That's the first time I've ever had a pitcher talk me into staying in the game. I guarantee I learned.''
"It's great to play these games at the end of the season and win,'' Vizquel said. "Playing the top teams gives you extra motivation.''
Cleveland trailed 3-1 in the seventh when Greg LaRocca singled
off Mays (3-7) with one out. John McDonald's potential double-play
grounder to shortstop was misplayed by Cristian Guzman, and rookie Victor Martinez hit a pinch-hit single, loading the bases.
"He came out to get me after the error and I told him, 'I got a sinker for this kid,''' Mays said. "I turned to Guzzie and told him, 'Let's get another grounder and turn two on this one.'
"Our defense bails us out most times. Sometimes things just happen.''
J.C. Romero relieved and Vizquel hit his first pitch for a double to left-center.
"I was afraid I would hit into a double play,'' Vizquel said. "His ball really goes down, but this one was right there. Right in the middle.''
Vizquel later scored on Jim Thome's double for a 5-3 lead. Thome went 2-for-3, reaching base safely for the 41st consecutive game -- the longest current streak in the majors.
"We care, we definitely care,'' Thome said of keeping the Twins away from the division title that has been Indians property in six of the last seven years. "You don't play this game to be second best.''
The Twins nearly tied it in the ninth.
Jacque Jones was intentionally walked, and Guzman grounded to
second, with McDonald throwing home in plenty of time for the
"That was a tremendous play by McDonald,'' Gardenhire said.
"He made a tough play look easy.''
Corey Koskie then struck out.
Jarrod Riggan (2-1) pitched one hitless inning in relief of Sabathia, who allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in six innings.
Mays lost for the fifth time in 11 starts since returning July
20 from three months on the disabled list caused by inflammation in
his right elbow. The right-hander allowed four runs -- three earned
-- and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He is 0-5 with a 6.11 ERA in 12
career appearances against Cleveland.
A bases-loaded walk to Rivas put Minnesota ahead in the second,
and Kielty hit a two-run homer in the sixth for a 3-0 lead.
"It's just a matter of time until we clinch it,'' Kielty said.
"It's going to happen. We nearly won this one, too.''
Karim Garcia hit his 12th homer in the Indians sixth to make it
"This should have been our game,'' Gardenhire said. "Joe made
a suggestion and he had a valid point. But it is my job to take him
out. I got my brain involved. That's a bad thing.''
Twins OF Torii Hunter left in the fourth inning with a strained backside. ... Garcia has six homers in his last 12 games. ... Cleveland improved to 7-64 when trailing after six innings. ...
Kielty is batting .467 (7-for-15) with two homers in his career against Sabathia. ... The Twins are 19-41 at Jacobs Field. ... Minnesota hit one double and has 315 this season, the most in the major leagues.